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Imagining the Lectionary:  Good Friday – stop the hurt and break the cycles of despair
Reflection accompanying image “Stop The Hurt
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and  weapons. (John 18:2-3)

The pattern here in the betrayal and arrest of Jesus is familiar to every totalitarian regime and dictatorship in history. He is let down and damaged by one of those closest to him. His special meeting place for companionship and support is defiled and rendered unsafe. Those with a moral or religious duty to protect him fail to do so. The political class label him as a danger to society and a threat which must be eliminated. Force and violence are used to deny his rights. In this way the endless cycle of tyranny continues. Each brave dissident or subversive who espouses an alternative worldview is neutralised. The system perpetuates a culture of oppression, fear and suspicion which is all-encompassing and from which there seems to be no escape. Agony follows agony in an endless repetition of despair. And God says, "Stop The Hurt".

And this pattern, scaled down and with the overt political overtones replaced by cultural ones which commonly stigmatise the victim, is so often at the centre of personal stories of abuse and exploitation too. Vulnerable children, women and men find themselves trapped within cycles of hurt at the hands of those closest to them. Places which should be special and safe - like one's home or workplace - become dreadful nightmarish spaces of fear and distress. Force and violence become the language of everyday life. Those who should protect often don't. Society is all too quick to shame and apportion guilt. So victims can be left feeling misunderstood and somehow to blame. Agony follows agony in an endless repetition of despair. And God says, "Stop The Hurt".

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